Exploring the Fourth Wave of Environmental Innovation
Header banner - Innovation and the Environment by EDF
November 14, 2019 
Businesses don't need to wait for future technological breakthroughs to make environmental progress. Recent years have seen huge advancements in sensors, data analytics, blockchain and other innovations that help companies meet sustainability goals. Harvard Business School reports on impactful investments from some of the biggest names in tech, with this encouraging message: “As climate change’s effects continue to necessitate immediate action, companies have started to turn to machine learning and AI to help navigate vast amounts of complex data to help improve decision making.” There’s no need to wait. Smart businesses are investing in the tech they need right now.
What 600 executives surveyed about sustainability said…

Executives are feeling the heat to lead on climate change, but too many continue to be trapped by short-term thinking. A new EDF survey of 600 executives finds that 92% think readily available tech can help improve both the bottom line and the environment, but only 59% are investing for this purpose. This 33% gap between belief and action represents a critical opportunity for executives to double down on sustainability commitments. As noted above, there is a lot that can be done today. You’ll find examples and details in the full report, which surveys 600 executives — across the retail, manufacturing, energy, technology and financial sectors — at companies with $500 million to $5 billion in revenue.
Read the report

Better cement through chemistry
If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide (source). So a new private/public venture has developed a process to reduce the cement industry’s impact. Based on calcium silicates, it uses existing kilns but requires less limestone and lower production temperatures, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30%. And the cement produced still meets all industry standards.
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A new open-source platform for air quality data
Inspired by the GitHub model, where developers build on one another’s software in a transparent and open space, the new Air Quality Data Commons is an open-source platform where people can store, share and analyze air quality data from around the world. “By adding to this shared resource, cities can feel confident their investments in air monitoring — whether through a fixed stationary network or city-owned vehicle fleets equipped with sensors — are creating enormous value,” Google Earth Outreach’s Karin Tuxen-Bettman notes.
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“Mr. Trash Wheel” has some competition
Interceptors are plastic and trash collecting barges that capture garbage upstream, before it enters the ocean. A group called The Ocean Cleanup just unveiled its latest take on the technology, with the definitive name: “The Interceptor.” While other upstream models exist, such as Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel, The Interceptor is the first barge designed with mass-production in mind, and the first fully solar powered unit. Moreover, while Mr. Trash Wheel can collect 200 tons of garbage per year, The Interceptor was built to collect more than 55 tons of garbage every day and to last for 20 years.
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Women4Climate Tech Challenge launched
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on women, (source) but they also play a critical role in creating a healthier, greener and more economically prosperous urban future. The Women4Climate Tech Challenge, launched at October’s C40 World Mayor’s Summit, is designed to support and surface the best ideas from women in this space. Previous winners — Urban Canopee in Paris, which deploys plant canopies to improve city air quality, and Tel Aviv-founded Eco Wave Power, which turns ocean waves into green electricity — are receiving support from their host cities for the next phase of their projects.
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